Millions of dollars in new Butler County voting machines that must be operational by November are arriving this week, and the board of elections now also has a six-month deadline to implement comprehensive security measures. Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued an edict last week that includes criminal background checks on all full-time county board of elections employees and any vendors who work with the voting systems, cybersecurity training, changing email domain names and performing various security checks on their systems, among other items. “Although the list of tasks that we’ve given them looks intimidating initially, once you start working through them in many cases they’ll find they’ve already complied,” LaRose told the Journal-News. “We’re confident they’re going to be able to work through this, we’ll be there to support them every step of the way.”Full Article: Background Checks to Supplement Voting Tech in Ohio County.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose issued a new security directive Tuesday to county board of elections to implement significant security upgrades. Area elections officials are optimistic they’ll stop anything that could disrupt an election. Kathy Meyer, director of the Allen County Board of Elections, said the board wants voters to feel safe and know their votes will count and that the correct information is in the system without someone getting into the system who shouldn’t. Michelle Wilcox, Auglaize County Board of Elections director, said she supports protecting the voting system from any cyber security threats. “Not only did we have mandates put into effect last year, but they are now going into greater depth to be sure everything is in place by Jan. 31, 2020,” Wilcox said. The directive provides Ohio with the opportunity to continue to strengthen the security of the election system and become a best practical leader nationwide in the statewide efforts to make elections safer. It instructs county boards of elections on continuing action and outlines additional requirements that each board must take to enhance its overall elections security and to protect its information technology systems.Full Article: Ohio Counties Work to Upgrade Security Before Elections.
Ohio’s elections chief ordered county boards of elections on Tuesday to undergo a host of security upgrades that he says will guard against cyberattacks and other threats ahead of the 2020 election. Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said his goal is to position Ohio as a national leader in election security that goes beyond voting machines to the boards’ software systems, email accounts and websites. “Even the most secure IT environments have lists of things that they want to do to become more secure, so it’s not to say that we have some sort of massive vulnerability,” he said. “But we know that when we have computer systems and personnel involved, there’s always room for improvement.” LaRose’s directive expands on the findings of a statewide review conducted last year. He said he is making available up to $12 million in Help America Vote Act money to pay for the upgrades. The order requires all 88 county boards to request four services from the Department of Homeland Security by July 19: a risk and vulnerability assessment, remote system testing, a communications review and an in-depth hunt for cyber threats.Full Article: Ohio elections chief orders counties to upgrade security | WKRC.
Ohio: Students find new uses for old Ohio voting machines that shouldn’t have been sold to Dispatch | Marc Kovac/The Columbus Dispatch
Government offices have different ways of dealing with stuff they formally declare is no longer needed. Electronics often are shipped to a recycler, but furniture, vehicles, clothing and other items sometimes are offered for sale to the general public. Licking County offers old equipment, confiscated property and other items on GovDeals.com, an online auction site used by government offices across the country. For a couple of months earlier this year, the county’s board of elections posted a handful of different auctions for “Diebold AccuVote-TSx” voting machines, purchased for $2,700 each in 2005 and ’06. The lots sold for between $7 and $19. “Be Creative… what could I do with a Used Voting Machine?,” the auction listing read. The Dispatch took the suggestion literally and bought one lot of five machines at a cost of $3.40 each, receiving touchscreen units and stands, along with headphones, keypads, memory cards, keys and voter access cards. The actual elections software was removed before the sale, but the units were otherwise functional.Full Article: Students find new uses for old Ohio voting machines that shouldn't have been sold to Dispatch - News - The Columbus Dispatch - Columbus, OH.
Ohio: Lawmakers look into strengthening state’s election, cybersecurity efforts | The Cleveland American
With election security frequently in the news, the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee took the opportunity recently to discuss a cybersecurity bill. The panel convened a hearing on Senate Bill 52, which deals with bolstering the state’s cybersecurity. A major part of the initiative is to protect the state’s elections from outside interference or tampering. Secretary of State Frank LaRose said it’s an important issue, especially given that Ohio’s likely to be a swing state in next year’s presidential election. “The eyes of the world will be on Ohio in 2020, and we will rise to that occasion,” he said. The Secretary of State told the committee that, if passed, the measure gives Ohio a chance to become a national leader in cybersecurity. It received unanimous support in the Senate.Full Article: Ohio lawmakers look into strengthening state's election, cybersecurity efforts | | theclevelandamerican.com.
In January, Akron suffered a “ransomware” attack when hackers shut down the city’s 311 non-emergency phone call system just as city plows were being deployed during a snowstorm. To undo the damage, hackers gave the city a demand: A five-figure sum.Ohio lawmakers are considering legislation — Senate Bill 52 — to deal with that kind of scenario in what they say will be a quick and organized way: The legislation would create a civilian force of 50 to 100 professionals across the state who would work to prevent such attacks and respond when they happen.RELATED: Ohio looks to set up a cyber reserve to fight, prevent attacks The all-volunteer Ohio Cyber Reserve would operate under Maj. Gen. John Harris, the Ohio adjutant general who commands the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard.“There’s so much cyber talent working out there in industry, in business and quite frankly in some municipalities, but we have no way to orchestrate that or organize that,” Harris said in an interview.Full Article: Ohio considers Cyber Reserve: Dayton Business.
Ohio: Thousands of voters given wrong polling location by Secretary of State website | Fayette Advocate
An apparent error on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website has caused thousands of voters to have the wrong polling location listed on their voter registration. According to the Pickaway County Board of Elections, “a large majority” of their county’s registered voters have been given the misinformation by the Secretary of State through the state’s official website voter registration portal. “We send a file to the Ohio Secretary of State and it appears they have addresses for several precincts incorrect,” Michele Lockard, director of the Pickaway County Board of Elections wrote in an email to a voter who inquired about the issue Thursday morning. It is unclear exactly how many voters have been impacted by the error, but Lockard said that she, herself, was also affected. It was also not made immediately clear to the Advocate if Pickaway County was the only county impacted by the error. The county has 34,339 registered voters.Full Article: Thousands of voters given wrong polling location by Secretary of State website - Fayette Advocate.
Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) Thursday announced passage of legislation to create the Ohio Cyber Reserve — a new division of the Ohio National Guard that specializes in cyber security. “Cyberattacks are a growing threat,” said Obhof, who co-sponsored the bill. “This legislation will help our state better prepare against these sophisticated attacks.” Obhof’s district includes Richland and Ashland counties. The new force will consist of qualified, civilian cyber security experts and will maintain regional Cyber Response Teams capable of deterring, mitigating, and remedying cyber-attacks against our local governments, businesses, critical infrastructure and citizens. Senate Bill 52 was initially suggested by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, in order to address concerns related to elections and protecting the integrity of election-related data.Full Article: Ohio Senate OKs creation of cyber security division | News | richlandsource.com.
For the first time, the Secretary of State will send voter registration forms to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who were removed from the voting rolls for not voting or updating their addresses with county boards of elections. And while it’s not expected many will be filled out and returned, one voting rights group says it’s a positive move. Secretary of State Frank LaRose said it’s likely the 270,000 people who are getting those registration forms are either dead or have moved. They have already gotten final notices from county boards of elections that they’re being taken off the rolls after six years of non-voting and not updating their addresses – a process that was upheld by the US Supreme Court last year, but one that LaRose wants to change.Full Article: Voter Registration Forms Sent To Thousands Of Recently Deleted Voters | WVXU.
Ohio: Federal judges reject state of Ohio’s request to delay gerrymandering trial | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A three-judge federal panel on Friday rejected a request from the state of Ohio to delay a gerrymandering lawsuit that aims to put a new Ohio congressional district map in place in time for the 2020 election. The state wanted to delay the trial, scheduled to start March 4, until after rulings are released this summer in two gerrymandering cases before the U.S. Supreme Court – one brought by Republicans in Maryland and one brought by Democrats in North Carolina. But the judges in their Friday ruling cited time considerations. The state has said any changes to a map must be in place by Sept. 20, 2019, to get ready for the 2020 election.Full Article: Federal judges reject state of Ohio’s request to delay gerrymandering trial | cleveland.com.
Ohio: New top elections official says Ohio’s congressional lines shouldn’t change before 2020 election | Cleveland Plain Dealer
ew Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Thursday that he doesn’t think Ohio’s congressional lines should be changed before the 2020 election, something a pending federal lawsuit aims to do. LaRose, a Republican, said Ohio’s current congressional maps are “flawed,” but said changing them in the middle of an election cycle would cause confusion and possible lower turnout as a result. He said Ohio should wait until 2021, when the state will draw the maps using a new process approved by voters last year that was designed to help fix Ohio’s gerrymandered congressional districts. Those maps, if they meet meet new requirements to get minority-party approval, would remain in place for 10 years.Full Article: New top Ohio elections official says Ohio’s congressional lines shouldn’t change before 2020 election | cleveland.com.
Ohio: Federal lawsuit seeks to stop elections boards from blocking ballot initiatives | The Columbus Dispatch
Groups in Columbus and half a dozen other Ohio communities have filed suit in federal court after their efforts to place initiatives on local ballots were blocked by elections boards. Individuals representing ballot efforts in Youngstown and Toledo and Athens, Medina, Meigs and Portage counties joined the filing Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio’s Eastern Division in Youngstown. They’re hoping the federal court will do what state courts have not to date — rule that Ohio’s process for reviewing and potentially barring citizen-led initiatives from ballots is unconstitutional. “Just because it’s controversial or the government itself doesn’t particularly like the idea, that doesn’t mean the people shouldn’t have a right to vote on it,” said Tish O’Dell, Ohio community organizer for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which is assisting the local groups with the legal challenge.Full Article: Federal lawsuit seeks to stop elections boards from blocking ballot initiatives - News - The Columbus Dispatch - Columbus, OH.
After months of debating options, the Miami County Board of Elections voted 3-1 Tuesday to buy a paper ballot and scanning voting system to replace the touch-screen system in use since 2006. The new system could be in use by the May election. The vote came during a meeting to discuss the November election when 6,288 early voting ballots went uncounted. The board fired Director Beverly Kendall on Tuesday and said it would investigate. The Ohio Secretary of State said Tuesday night he was launching an investigation. Frank LaRose said the “failure by the Miami County Board of Elections is unacceptable.”Full Article: Miami County switching to paper ballots after election error.
Newly elected Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose says he won’t stop the state’s voter purges, but he wants to reduce dramatically the number of inactive voters removed going forward. Ohio’s method of removing inactive voters from the rolls led to a U.S. Supreme Court fight between ballot access advocates and the state. In the end, the top court upheld Ohio’s voter purge for those who haven’t voted or updated their residency in six years. LaRose, who was sworn in Saturday, told The Enquirer that Ohio’s current process is less than ideal and “kind of antiquated.” But he won’t halt the removal of voters initiated by former Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted earlier this month.Full Article: Ohio's new elections chief wants to cut back on voter purge.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office is sending “last chance” notifications to some 275,000 inactive voters across the state, giving them a final shot at keeping voting registrations active on county rolls.
In Montgomery County, some 17,918 residents should receive the notices, according to the secretary’s office. They will also go to 6,912 Butler County residents and 5,273 residents in Warren County. The secretary’s office says voters get six years to respond to county boards of elections to confirm registrations. If residents don’t respond or don’t vote in at least 12 elections, don’t request absentee ballot applications in even-numbered year general elections or don’t have their information automatically updated in transactions with Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices — if voters “ignore” those attempts to keep them on the rolls, they are sent a “last chance” notice, said a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, Matthew McClellan.
Ohio’s elections chief said Wednesday that more than 275,000 inactive Ohio voters are about to get their final opportunity to keep from dropping off the rolls. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said that’s the total number of so-called “last chance mailings” going out from county boards of elections as part of Ohio’s contested process for keeping its list of eligible voters up-to-date. Ohio’s procedure for maintaining its voter rolls is considered one of the most stringent in the nation, because it employs a “supplemental process” that has led to the removal of thousands of people who failed to vote and then didn’t respond to government requests to affirm their registrations.Full Article: Ohio Sends 'Purge' Warnings To 275,000 Inactive Voters | WOSU Radio.
In a win for a group of Democratic voters, a three-judge panel ruled Monday that the former chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee must turn over emails and other documents about the 2011 redistricting of Ohio’s legislative maps. In May, a coalition of Democratic voters and groups, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, sued Governor John Kasich and other Republican lawmakers in Cincinnati federal court. They urged the court to enjoin a redistricting statute that the GOP used to redraw maps, arguing it gave an unfair advantage to Republicans at the expense of Democratic voters. The Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, an advocacy group for black trade unionists, and its co-plaintiffs claim the Republican State Leadership Committee sought to control the redistricting process to “solidify conservative policymaking at the state level, and to maintain a Republican stronghold in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.”Full Article: Republicans Ordered to Hand Over Records on Ohio Maps.
Ohioans are closer to getting new voting machines. Secretary of State Jon Husted has notified county boards of elections they can start the process of selecting new equipment. “Ohio’s voters will soon say goodbye to aging voting equipment that pre-dates the first generation iPhone,” Husted said in a statement Thursday. State lawmakers approved the Voting Equipment Acquisition Program this year. It sets aside $104.5 million to purchase new equipment for Ohio’s 88 counties. Under the program, each county’s commissioners can select a voting system, equipment and services from five voting system vendors.Full Article: Ohio Counties Getting State Funding For New Voting Machines | WOSU Radio.
Ohio: Court orders boards of election to count provisional ballots in midterms for certain voters purged from rolls | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A federal appeals court on Wednesday ordered boards of election in Ohio to count provisional election ballots for the 2018 midterm elections that are cast by certain people previously purged from the state’s voter rolls. A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that votes cast by people purged from the rolls between 2011 and 2015 must be counted if they still live in the same county of their last registration and if they are not disqualified from voting because of a felony conviction, mental incapacity or death. The panel’s injunction comes as progressive advocacy groups appeal Senior U.S. District Judge George Smith’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jon Husted that said notices the state sent to inactive voters were inadequate under federal law. Should the groups be successful on appeal, some voters may be wrongly denied the ability to vote unless the injunction is in place, the panel wrote.Full Article: Court orders Ohio boards of election to count provisional ballots in midterms for certain voters purged from rolls | cleveland.com.
Ohio: Federal judge deals another blow to group challenging voter roll purge | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that notification forms Ohio sends to voters in its process to remove inactive voters from its rolls are compliant with federal law, dealing another blow to a group challenging the state’s voter purge process. The groups suing Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said all voters the state deleted from its rolls from 1995 through 2016 through a disputed process were actually removed unlawfully because the state’s notices for removal didn’t comply with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. Senior U.S. District Judge George Smith disagreed in an opinion issued Wednesday, largely ruling against the plaintiffs and saying the forms complied with federal law. He struck down arguments from the plaintiffs that said voters weren’t told of the deadlines to respond to the forms and weren’t informed of the consequences of failing to respond.Full Article: Federal judge deals another blow to group challenging Ohio's voter roll purge | cleveland.com.